Thursday, March 13, 2014

Made for MORE

I used to see book covers like this and cringe.  I was immediately skeptical.  I assumed the author was preaching a "health and wealth gospel."

I haven't read this book, so I don't really know what Curtis Martin has to say about discovering the life God created you to live, or how he suggests you go about making that discovery.

I haven't read Jim Cymbala's book either.  So, I don't know what his take is on the life you have and the life God wants you to have.  I am sure he does an excellent job explaining the difference and shows how we can go about changing the way we look at life and thus how we live life.  I believe I have read his other book (one of them at least) Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire and was impressed with his thoughts and agreed with his theology.

If I didn't like to read, I could watch this DVD series by Barb Larson and learn how to embrace all God has made me to be.  Haven't taken the time to do that, but maybe I should.  Maybe I shouldn't pre-judge what Larson has to say.  Maybe I shouldn't assume I know what her approach is to living life.  I don't even know who she is, so why should I put her, or her ideas, in a box.  I shouldn't.  That's my point!

I feel like I have put myself in a box, actually.  I think I have listened to what I thought was truth, but am coming to realize might have been lies that the Enemy disguised extremely well.  He's good at that.  Very, VERY good.  As the apostle John wrote, "Why can't you understand what I am saying?  It's because you can't even hear me!!  For you are children of your father the devil, and  you love to do the evil things he does.  He was a murderer from the beginning.  He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is the father of lies.  So when I tell the truth, you just naturally don't believe me!" (Jn 8:43-45)

I think we have the same problem today as John did thousands of years ago.  We don't readily listen to or accept the truth because we have been tricked and deceived.  We simply don't realize our mistake.  And it's a grave one, I'm afraid.

You see, Satan doesn't "just" lie to us.  That's only the beginning.  His purpose, his end goal is to "steal, kill, and destroy." (Jn 10:10)

Thus, when we believe his lies, however unsuspecting we may be, we are forfeiting the life God has for us.  As we exchange the truth of God for Satan's lies, we start to die inside (even if we don't realize that's happening - it is).  We totally miss out on the "rich and satisfying life" God wants for us (again John 10:10).

When I hear someone tell me, "You are made for more," I am hesitant to believe them.

No, I'm not. 
I'm not anyone special.
I don't deserve that kind of life.
I'm being selfish.

Lies!  All of them.

God's been helping me open my eyes and my ears.  He's helping me realize how many lies I have been believing.  He's helping me learn to see and listen all over again.  This time to HIM, to HIS WORD, to the true TRUTH.  I've written several blogs in the past couple moths about this matter, actually.  So, you would think I would have grasped the concept already, but apparently, I am a tough cookie.  I have a hard head and I guess I need the truth drilled into me again and again and again.

Maybe I need to read Liar, Liar Pants on Fire

Or perhaps I should look over You're Asking the Wrong Questions

I might have to skim Why Not You? again too

Then, there was the one I wrote about Guilty Pleasures.  That is probably worth reading once more.

See what I mean?!  God is trying to get His point across.  The problem isn't Him.  It's me.  It's that I have become so accustomed to what I thought was truth that I am blinded to the actual TRUTH.

But, as I said, God is persistent.  He Himself cannot lie and doesn't want me believing Satan's lies any more.  He is my heavenly Father and wants what is best for me.  He will not stand by while the devil attempts to lead me astray.  Not only is he teaching me the TRUTH, but He is teaching me to LISTEN to the right voice.  And slowly, but surely, I am learning to listen to Jesus and not Satan.

So, what is Jesus telling me?
What is He telling YOU?

I seriously think I need to look into this book study by Jennie Allen.  Maybe God is trying to speak through her to help me, to help YOU.

I'm not preaching a health and wealth gospel.  I'm not telling you that God will give you whatever you want, that you will have lots of money, that you will never get sick or face hardship of any kind, that everything you touch will turn to gold, that everything you do will prosper like crazy.  That's not the truth, at least not God's truth.

I'm also not telling you that God doesn't want to bless you, that He doesn't want to give you good things, that He doesn't want you to be happy, that He doesn't want you to enjoy life to the fullest.  BECAUSE HE DOES. Boy, does He!!!

Take a look back at what I had to say about that in the post Whatever Your Little Heart Desires.

We need to remember this:

And that, dear precious child of God, is why God doesn't give us everything we want.  Instead, He helps us learn to WANT HIM above all else.  For only as we fill our hearts with HIM first will we truly appreciate the blessings He has for us.

As we seek God and delight in Him, God DOES give us the desires of our heart.  What I am coming to realize is that those desires are not wrong or selfish.  It's not bad of me to want to enjoy life.  It's not wrong to want to travel.  It's not selfish either.  These dreams I have had as of late are not "guilty pleasures."  That's what Satan wants me to believe.  But, he's a liar out to steal, kill, and destroy.  I must remember my dreams are from GOD Himself.  These dreams take my gaze and turn it heavenward.  They cause me to long for something better.  They stir within me a yearning for God and for His kingdom and for His will to be done here on earth.  Not later.  NOW.

And so, I will keep dreaming and praying even bigger.

Those dreams and prayers involve It Works.  I can't get around that.  As you see my posts and read my blogs and what not, please remember that as I talk about money, I have not fallen in love with wealth.  Also keep in mind what I shared the other day:

We had our first Financial Peace University Class tonight, and my heart is about to explode. So many things that Dave Ramsey said (on the video, because he didn't actually come in person to teach the class) resonated with what God has been speaking to me in my heart as I travel this crazy It Works journey. 

Money is not evil. The Bible says the LOVE of money is the root of evil. Money itself is amoral.

It's what you do with the money. It's how you feel about money. The only difference between saving and hoarding is attitude.

Imagine what would happen in the Kingdom of God if the people of God were debt free?!

If you are debt free and can save, you can do more, live more, be more, GIVE more!

If you don't use God's resources and forfeit that, you are handing those resources over to the enemy! That one got me!!!

I remember at Conference several people said something along the lines of, "Someone is going to make the money. Why not let it be the "good" people?" or "God wants the money in the hands of those who will use it well." At first I thought this sounded like a "health and wealth gospel," which I am NOT for because I don't think that is biblical. BUT, I do think God has called us to be His hands and feet, to love others, to make a difference. And while that doesn't always require money (or at least not very much of it), it often DOES require money (and sometimes a lot -- like adopting a child for $30,000 or going on a mission trip or sponsoring a child or paying for someone's medical bills or whatever God may call you to do).

SO, imagine what would happen in the Kingdom of God if the people of God were debt free?!!! Think about how much more money we could give. Think about how we would have the freedom of time to take off work and go overseas or across the street for a week trip. Think about the ways we could LIVE more, DO more, BE more, and GIVE more!

That is what is overflowing from my heart of hearts tonight.

Apparently, my heart was super full, because I went on to say this:

It's not wrong or bad or selfish to be rich IF you turn around and use what GOD has given you for HIS glory and His Kingdom work. It's even okay to travel and enjoy the world God made and praise Him for the beauty of His creation. That's honoring to Him. AND it's good to remember that God delights in us. He enjoys blessing us. If we as human parents like to give our kiddos fun things and do fun stuff together, how much more than does our HEAVENLY FATHER find joy in doing those things for us?! I don't think we can comprehend His love and so we resist it. We think it's selfish and bad a d wrong to have money. Again, it's not wrong at all, as long as you use the gifts God has given you for HIS good. It's not about accumulating wealth. It's about making a difference and changing the world. I could go on and on. This has become something I am beginning to be quite passionate about! As I listened to Dave talk last night, I couldn't help but smile and get excited and I felt like my heart was going to burst. He's putting dreams and hopes and desires in my heart that are too big for me alone, but I know that's good. Because only HE can make them happen, and I trust that He will, and then some. Because He's God and is so good at doing beyond what I could ever dream or dare to ask or possibly even imagine. LOVE!

I was moved even more after I read a post from a teammate
and wrote this:

Love, LOVE, love the encouragement and support I get from my It Works team mates. Not only is God doing a work in my heart about money/wealth but also about the "greatness within me" BECAUSE HE IS IN ME. When I put restrictions or limitations on myself, really I am telling GOD He can't do something. And that is down right ridiculous! I am God's MASTERPIECE and He has special, unique plans for me. He's not a ho-hum God so I'm pretty sure His purposes for me aren't ho-hum either! Yes, I may be at home changing diapers and cleaning up messes and doing laundry and all those other mom/wife things. BUT that is HUGE! I am also, I hope, encouraging and inspiring others to live out God's plans for them, whatever they may be. And I am learning to dream big and pray even bigger. I am opening myself up to be used by God however He wants. And that, my friends, is exciting and scary. I don't know all the details (none of us ever do), but I know God is at work in me and He's going to get massive amounts of glory as He does. I would love for you to join me on this adventure and we can pursue God with everything we have TOGETHER!

Psalm 62 is my life verse/passage.  Has been since my senior year of high school.  When I tore cartilage in my knees.  The week of the state track meet.  And couldn't compete.  And then couldn't play volleyball in college because I was doing physical therapy instead.  As God seemed to shatter all my dreams, He was doing a work in my heart.  He was actually replacing my love for sports with a love for HIM.  As a result, I have grown and come to realize that as I make GOD my foundation, I can never be shaken, no matter what life may bring my way.  

I think God is doing a new work in me and giving me a new life verse to add to this one.  He's teaching me that He who is my rock, my fortress, and my salvation is MORE powerful and faithful and good than I could even begin to imagine.  He's showing me that He is capable of so much MORE than I could ever dare to dream.

And as I come to understand God better, I am also beginning to understand His plans for me a bit better too.  I am beginning to believe, truly believe, that I am MADE FOR MORE.

And guess what?


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Dreaming for OTHERS

This morning on K-Love I heard a touching story of a young woman who is living out her childhood dreams.  She's not starring in a movie or walking down any runways or posing for a magazine cover.  She's not a rockstar or an Olympic athlete.  She's not a lawyer or doctor.  She's just 21 years old, so I don't even know if she's finished college yet.  BUT, she IS saving lives.  Lots of them!

When this young woman was a little girl, about 8 years old, she wrote in her journal, "If I could do anything for God I would build an entire village in Africa."  With 3 mission trips under her belt, Cassandra is now in the pre-field stage of becoming a full time missionary to South Africa, where she will be working with families affected by the devastating AIDS epidemic there.  If you want to read the full story about Cassandra, it's quite inspiring!

I was already thinking about dreaming, yet again, when I heard this story on the radio.  I think Cassandra's journey confirms what God was speaking to me in my heart.

You see, for the past couple days I have been focused on the dreams I have for my 3 young girls.  I read a great article today about parenting and being more intentional about raising children who will be happy, successful adults.  I do want my girls to be happy and successful, of course, but more than anything I want them to be women who make a difference in the lives of those around them.  I want them to be women of character, women who love others and show kindness and compassion to even the most "unlovely" of individuals.  I want them to be women who are always on the look out for ways they can bless others, ways they can speak truth into people's lives, ways they can encourage and support and inspire their friends and strangers alike to dream big and get the absolute most out of life each and every day.  The thing is, though, if I want them to be women who do these things, then I need to show them how to be young girls who do these things.  And, as the article reminded me, children often learn much better by watching than by hearing.  They may not remember a single word I say, but I can guarantee you they will remember what I DO.  So, I must teach by example.  If I want them to be that type of woman when they grow up, I need to be that type of woman NOW.  

As I think about the dreams I have for my girls, and how I would do just about anything to help them fulfill their dreams - no matter how wild or crazy they may be - I am realizing it's okay for ME to dream too.

For only as I dream, will my little girls be brave enough to dream.

As I dream and pray and work to make my dreams become a reality, my girls will see that.  They will be part of that.  They will grow up knowing God can do the humanly impossible.  They will grow up knowing God has special plans and purposes for them, plans and purposes that are so much bigger than they can ever imagine.  They will grow up knowing God is at work in and through them.  They will grow up knowing God can use anyone - including THEM - to make His name known and to bring people to Jesus.  They will grow up knowing that living all out for God isn't "safe," but it's the BEST thing to do, the most fulfilling, meaningful thing, the ONLY thing.

So, I ask you today, BEG you really, to DREAM.  Not just regular, run of the mill dreams either.  No, if you are going to dream, you might as well dream BIG.  Bigger than you have ever dreamed before.  So big that your dreams scare you.  Because only then are your dreams beyond what YOU can do and in the realm of what GOD alone can do.  And those kind of dreams bring glory and honor to His name.  Those kind of dreams get people's attention and help them see how truly powerful and amazing and faithful and good and majestic and wonderful God is.  You see, your dreams aren't about you at all.  Hate to burst your bubble.  But really, your dreams are all about GOD.  For He is the One who places those dreams in your heart in the first place.  He is the One who helps you make your dreams come true.  He is the one who gets all the credit when they do.

With this in mind, I ask you once more to DREAM BIG.

If not for yourself, for your children.  And your children's children.